Espinoza poised to assume father Fangio's name

Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:49pm EST
 
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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Former racing driver Oscar “Cacho” Espinoza is preparing to change his surname to Fangio once Argentine legal authorities have ruled that he is the son of the late great Juan Manuel Fangio.

DNA tests ordered by an Argentine judge in August have determined that Espinoza is 99.99 percent certainly the five-times world Formula One champion’s son from an affair he had more than 50 years ago, the local news agency DYN reported.

“Just think that in the next elections, for the first time, I’m going to be able to vote with the Fangio surname,” the 77-year-old Espinoza told reporters after he was informed of the result of the DNA test.

He will have to wait four years to vote in the next presidential elections since Argentina went to the polls only last month.

Judge Rodrigo Cataldo ordered the exhumation of Fangio’s body at the cemetery in the Buenos Aires provincial town of Balcarce, where he was born and died aged 84 in 1995, to take DNA samples from the body.

Espinoza, who had a brief spell in Formula 3 and was commonly known as “Cacho” Fangio in motor racing circles, is the son of Andrea Berruet who had a long relationship with Fangio that ended in 1960. Her husband's surname was Espinoza.

Fangio, who won his five titles in the 1950s, never married and was thought to be childless but Espinoza’s was the second of two paternity claims after another made in 2005 by a man named Ruben Vazquez, who also bears a striking resemblance to the late racing driver.

Vazquez said his mother Catalina Basili, who died in 2012 aged 103, told him she had an affair with Fangio and had signed official papers saying he was her son’s father. His case is still ongoing in the city of La Plata, capital of Buenos Aires province.

Fangio had little contact with Vazquez, according to media reports, but he did with Espinoza and gave him advice on his racing career.

(Writing by Rex Gowar, editing by Ed Osmond)